As Andy's twenty-something cousin entered the livingroom last night dressed as Santa, I saw the faces of belief. Six little kids; three five-year-olds, one-three-year old, and two, two-year olds all jumbled together on a couch near the fireplace. Two of them, mine. I saw belief too on the faces of the many adults in the room. Including Mrs. Claus, busily snapping pictures along with the rest of us and grinning at her husband of one year. And I believed as well.
Oh, Santa handed out presents but astonishingly, not a child ripped into his package. They simply stared, a little hesitant, a lot shy, each with the forgotten toy dangling from his hand. After Santa departed, the adults each eagerly grabbed a child and ran with them onto the back deck pointing at various stars. A few of us were sure we could see a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer traveling far off in the sky.
Throughout twelve years (yes - 12!) of Catholic school, I was taught that faith is not seeing and yet believing. Here were a bunch of young kids who still do believe. When Tim walked into the room in his Santa suit, there was no doubt to be found. Of course there's a magical old man who sees us when we're sleeping, and loves us, and gives us precious gifts, and just asks us to be good. Santa is the embodiment of the goodness that even this ala carte Catholic can't dismiss.
Whether and however we believe -- in Jesus, in Heaven, in God, in good in the universe, it's all out there for us.
Merry Christmas my friends.
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